SWAT team leader's file opened by judge

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 4, 2012 - 10:59 PM
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Minneapolis SWAT team leader David Clifford, left, charged with assault at an Andover bar, made a court appearance on Thursday.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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Prosecutors will be allowed to see parts of the personnel file of Minneapolis police SWAT team leader David Clifford, who is charged with first-degree assault for an off-duty confrontation that seriously injured an Andover man, an Anoka County Judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Lawrence Johnson set a trial date of April 1 for Clifford and denied a gag order that would have prevented all parties from discussing the case in public. Johnson also ruled that the Minneapolis police internal affairs department could be granted information obtained by prosecutors.

A surveillance video from the June 16 incident showed Brian Vander Lee, 43, sitting at a patio table at Tanners Station in Andover when Clifford, seated at the next table, approached him.

According to court documents, Clifford, 47, said Vander Lee was using offensive language. After a verbal confrontation, Clifford struck Vander Lee in the mouth with his right fist. Vander Lee fell backward, hitting his head on the pavement. Clifford fled on foot. Vander Lee has had three brain surgeries since the incident.

At a previous court appearance, more than 50 people showed up to support Clifford. But there were no huge crowds at Thursday's brief hearing, said prosecutor Blair Buccicone, assistant Anoka County attorney.

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419

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